Monday, June 22, 2009

5 Reasons To Practice Dream Interpretation: Reason 5

Though there are many important reasons to practice dream interpretation, one of the most valuable rewards from this work is that it helps with waking day relationships. It is a rare circumstance that someone would have dreams that did not involve characters of some kind. Common characters include romantic partners (past, present and future), family members, strangers, co-workers, friends, peers, and celebrities.

Who you dream about is a function of who you think about, who you have interacted with in the past, and what waking day issues you are experiencing. The "who" of dreaming is very salient so when someone shows up in your dream, they are important to you, whether you realize it or not. It may not be the actual person that is important but something about him or her that is coming into awareness. The dream characters may represent a personality type (the issue is aggression), a situation (it's about family), a similar person (my sister shows up as my brother) or any number of issues (the bully at work shows up as the bully from grade school). Dream characters are filled with important information about our lives and since more than half of our dreams are about relationships, the meaning in relation to waking day lives is important. Dream characters have much to teach us if we are willing to listen.

Monday, June 15, 2009

5 Reasons To Practice Dream Interpretation: Reason 4

From Donatella's last comments (in Reason 3) comes the next big reason to practice dream interpretation. She states in her comments:

Our intuitive, more secret and intimate parts, know before the other parts, those that are more “worldly”, and they ask us to intervene.

Donatella's comment brings us to the notion that dreams contain information that are greater than our own conscious mind can know. While we sleep, it is known that we continue to process information and to "learn" new information from what we have acquired. For example, if we learn A, B, and C, then while we sleep, the mind can make connections between them and all and come up with new information such as, A, B and C can be =Z! This new information (e.g. Z) lies within us and in the conscious mind, we may not know it.

The information that is "intuitive, more secret, and intimate" includes all the information that has ever been experienced by a dreamer; every person ever met, every book ever read, every stranger ever encountered, every emotion ever felt. During sleep time, the mind can assimilate, reorganize and more importantly, access this information at a level that the conscious mind simply cannot do.

The fourth reason to practice dream interpretation is to access this information that is at a level that cannot be accessed otherwise. To not do so, is to miss out on the intuitive and intimate parts of the self that are speaking out and asking for action to be taken.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

5 Reason to Practice (and Teach) Dream Interpretation: Reason 3

One of the most important reasons to do the work on one’s own dreams is that dreams can lead to self-awareness. This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of human development; as the personality matures the sense of self and self-awareness becomes more prominent.

Dream imagery can aid in the process of revealing personality traits to the dreamer, illustrate behaviours that may be unconsciously engaged in, and of course, reveal blind spots that are so often present. Dream imagery will play out the parts of the self that need to be acknowledged or even changed. The first crucial step is that parts of the self must be in conscious awareness and then, possibly changed.

It appears from dream research and practice that recurring dreams are often of this nature. When a important part of the self is being revealed in a dream, the imagery will continue to play out in the mind of the dreamer until the dreamer makes changes in waking day. People are often perplexed and bothered by their own recurring dreams but the solution appears to lie in the connection to waking day. If a dream is revealing a personality trait (e.g. chronic worry, anger, low-conscientiousness, emotional instability etc.), then once the dreamer acknowledges this in self-awareness and begins to make appropriate changes in waking day (e.g. tries to distract the mind instead of constantly worrying), then the recurring dream imagery will stop.

Perhaps one of the most significant processes in human development is that of self-awareness. This is the point where we begin to see ourselves in the full spectrum of our being (the good and the bad), we begin to engage in reflexive consciousness (we look back on ourselves) and then we engage in more consciously aware thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Dream imagery can be a gateway into the process of fully becoming one’s self.

Monday, June 1, 2009

5 Reasons to Practice Dream Interpretation: Reason 2

The International Association For The Study of Dreams is holding it's annual conference in Chicago (June, 2009). For details click the link below:

It is here that many scientists, researchers, and clinicians will share their knowledge on what dreams mean and how they can be useful in waking life. One of the main reasons for this work is to reveal coping mechanisms to waking day problems. During sleep time the brain undergoes complex neurophysiological functioning that sorts, stores, and creates new information. It is during dreaming that this new information can be accessed. We have many examples where solutions to problems are revealed (e.g. how to deal with a difficult child, or, work-related issues causing distress are solved) Examples of coping mechanisms in dream imagery are quite numerous.

The coping literature in psychology has suggested that there are 3 basic coping techniques; avoidance coping, emotion coping and problem-solving coping (Endler, 1998). If we begin with this premise, we will see that the dreaming brain will reveal to the dreamer two important aspects of coping. The first is the coping mechanism that is being employed in waking day, such as crying or yelling at others in a dream (emotion coping!). The second is a solution to a problem with a new coping pattern, such as working out an interpersonal problem in the dream, rather than crying or yelling.

Dreams can offer a rich source of information for coping with everyday problems. An interesting study would be to measure participants` coping techniques in waking day and then analyzing their dreams for possible coping techniques and solutions. This would help tap into the important phenomena of using dreams for coping.